Christmas traditions: Gerard & Lori-Anna


Gerard Veldhoven

LGBTQ+ Activist for Equality

New Glasgow

Growing up in The Netherlands, I well recall a Salvation Army group singing in front of a house across the street. This was an annual event that had its beginnings a number of years previously. Yes, a green spruce was erected in our living room on a yearly basis on December 25th, however, not so during the Second World War. My parents were determined to follow tradition and expose the four boys to this annual celebration. We were informed that the reason for this event was to celebrate the birth of a boy named Jesus.

Who was this Jesus, a name that was not familiar to us until the tree was put up on December 25, 1946? My mother, who was a gentle person, did not dwell on the reason why this Jesus was such an important person. In time, it became clear to us that he was a Christian person, someone who had extraordinary powers. As my family members were not church attendees, future years only consisted of a tree being put up with real candles, a few ornaments and a few buckets of water in case of fire. Christmas songs were also part of the day and so continuing a tradition for some years. My maternal grandparents were occasional church goers, but our paternal grandparents did not take part.

Tradition dictates that on December 25, we join Christians in a celebratory manner, with family and friends, have a special breakfast and above all a great turkey dinner. Wait one minute. What is this other tradition? Presents, of course! Before all the glitter, the shopping for special foods, the decision as to the weight of the traditional North American turkey, and then the purchase of presents that puts many of us in unimaginable debt.

Celebrating the birth of the Christ child is a time honoured tradition for those who follow this yearly celebration have a serious commitment to the yearly event. Personally, as a non-religious person, while respecting the view of others, I celebrate along with you, only that I use this time to honour my family and friends in secular fashion. To all, I send my love and respect.

Lori-Anna Jenkins

Crombie REIT

To say that I am someone who loves Christmas in all its glorious bits and pieces could quite possibly be the understatement of the century. It is a fact that Christmas lights are my favourite colour! Tradition and Christmas go hand in hand, but for me it is all about family. I had a standout childhood of memories right out of a holiday movie that I wish everyone could have experienced, right down to the red velvet dress and dancing on my dad’s feet to holiday classics in my grandmother’s living room. Some of the memories may have been more Christmas Story than Hallmark, but I would not have changed a thing. Coming from a passionate family of Italian, Polish and Scandinavian heritage, my childhood Christmas was all about food, being together, and did I mention food? We started out on Christmas Eve and the food extravaganza would continue each day, all day, until the leftovers were gone.

I moved from my home town almost 20 years ago and created my own family traditions here in Pictou County. Christmas is still about the food as we host family dinners at our home each season, but having everyone together under one roof to eat, drink and be merry, truly is the best gift of all.

My husband and son complete our amazing trio and waking up each Christmas morning at the crack of dawn to conduct the official check to ensure Santa found us, still gives me the nervous and excited belly it did as a child. That tradition has not faded even though we are all “young at heart” in our household now. The spirit of the holiday season should be preserved and nurtured every chance you get. As silly as something may seem in the moment, is what gives you all the feels when those traditions are carried on to the next generation. Steaming mugs of hot chocolate, the infamous tradition of eating Hot Rods from their stockings as the Christmas breakfast appetizer and watching “Plays of the Year” on TSN truly makes our Christmas mornings magical and something that will always be our family traditions.